Week 17 is approaching, and Kansas City may very well sit their starters, giving their stars time to rest before the Chiefs playoffs start.
There are currently 14 seconds on the clock, but it is not winding down. As the play before, Charvarius Ward, a cornerback who has dealt with a hand injury the whole season, broke up a pass intended for Calvin Ridley and nearly intercepted it. That brings us to fourth and five for Atlanta, putting the opportunity to tie the game against the league’s best in the newly pro-bowl selected kicker for the Falcons.
Week 16 is over, and the Chiefs set a new record for the franchise’s best in-season history at 14-1 and have an opportunity to make it 15-1 with a win over the Los Angeles Chargers, a team who gave Kansas City trouble earlier in the season. This next game is just as important as the rest. It is an opportunity to provide the starters with rest and prepare the backups for the Chiefs playoffs.
As the whistle blows, the snap starts and the Falcons have overtime on their mind. What is usually an easy 30-yard kick turned into another example of the story of Atlanta’s season—going back to the second game of the season, where up 20 meant nothing to Dallas, or even the Bears in their third game of the season. The Falcons had a lead on Kansas City in this same game, but we all now know the ending.
Younghoe Koo starts his leg swing once the ball reaches the holder’s hand, and with pressure from Chiefs’ players, the kick went far right, barely missing the bright yellow pole. One of the first things you see is receiver Mecole Hardman waving his hands back and forth in a “No good” motion while others are sprinting off the field.
We could all say that Kansas City would have won in overtime anyway, but that same thing could have been said in the 2018 playoffs against New England when the coin did not flip the right way.
In a game that had some implications for playoff seeding, Kansas City could win and clinch the number one seed. This also means that they will have a bye in the first week, meaning we will not get to see Chiefs playoffs football until the second round, a good and bad thing. However, they could use that time to fix a few things before the Chiefs playoffs start.
What to Fix Before Chiefs Playoffs
Offensive Line Problems
Offensive line problems have been one of the most significant issues this season for Kansas City, mainly because the Chiefs’ quarterback needs to be protected better if they want to get all they can from the biggest contract in NFL history.
Last season, Mahomes played 14 games due to his knee cap being on the side of his leg. In those games, he was sacked 17 times, for a total of 127 yards lost. In this season’s 16 games, Mahomes has been sacked 22 times for a total of 147 yards. While those numbers do seem alarming, it could be a lot worse.
Carson Wentz has taken the most sacks this season while also losing the most yards. 50 sacks for 326 yards is a lot, and if Mahomes had those numbers, coach Reid would not be too happy.
While the numbers are not the worst, they do need to get better. Three of the four possible Chiefs playoffs opponents in the second round all have great defensive lines and in the top half of the league in sacks.
For Cleveland, they are currently 14th in sacks with 37 and have a nightmare of a player in Myles Garrett, with 12 sacks himself. Baltimore is 11th in the league, with 39 total sacks. However, in their last matchup this season, Mahomes was only hit four times but did not get sacked. Miami is tenth in sacks, with 40. In week 14, they were able to bring Mahomes down three times, including the big 30-yard sack.
The offensive line will have to step up come time for the Chiefs playoffs, and if not, they could find themselves in tough situations. It all starts with using week 17 as a rest week, and the first round of the Chiefs’ playoffs as well. The more rest this team gets, the more dangerous they will be in this next Chiefs playoffs run.
Thanks for reading my article on the things Kansas City’s offensive line needs to fix before the Chiefs playoffs start.
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics Forums!
Check out the OTH Merch right here!